Monday, October 10, 2016

Interview with YA author Angela Moody

Angela Moody joins us today to talk about her book, No Safe Haven.

How did it get its title? Angela explains:
 All through the writing process I kept calling my book “Tillie Pierce” after my main character, but needed a catchy title for publishing. I brainstormed with my critique group and someone made the comment that she had no safe place to hide from the war, and after mulling those words around, we came up with No Safe Haven. I liked it, so “Tillie Pierce” became No Safe Haven.

Did you design the cover?

 I didn’t design the cover, but I had a conceptual idea of what I wanted. I used the services at Paper and Sage, and though I’ve forgotten the woman’s name, she was really helpful and listened to what I had in mind. I had a picture of Tillie I found on the internet and wanted to use that, with a background of a civil war picture, but the pixels were too low for her. My daughter and I went to Gettysburg for the 150th reenactment and she took some pictures while we were there. She let me look through them and I sent six to Paper and Sage. They chose the one on the cover and Voila! She was also kind enough to give my daughter copyright credit for the photo.

Who is your main character and what problem does he/she face?
 My main character is fifteen-year-old Tillie Pierce, she lived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. The problem she faces is that the Confederates are about to storm her town. She is brought up in a Christian home, but doesn’t want to worship a God who would allow the unbridled carnage she sees around her.

What might draw someone to your character?
 What might draw someone to my character? I’ve had many people who have read the book say that they can relate to her confusion about God and how we sometimes can’t see what he is doing in the midst of the “messes” we’re in. Tillie is in the same position. After 9/11, my children asked me why God would allow something like that to happen. That theme runs very strongly through No Safe Haven, as I was trying to find a way to answer that question.

What makes your book stand out from other books like it?
My book is a historical fiction with no romance in it. It was written for young girls who want to learn something, but enjoy a good story at the same time. I think the fact that there’s no romance, is what stands out. It’s an unvarnished look at how human beings interact with each other during the worst times, without being offensive or graphic.

What is one thing you learned from writing this book?
I learned that the Lord is faithful. I endured many strange occurrences as I was writing this book and looking back I realized that every time I needed advice or research or something, it would come my way in the strangest ways. For instance, in one church scene I needed a hymn that would fit the mood I was trying to create. Every Sunday at church, I would scan the hymnal and during the week I did internet searches trying to find the “perfect” hymn. This went on for months and I was about to give up and ask our music director if she could help me when that Sunday for the first and only time, we sang a hymn called  Am I A Soldier of the Cross? It was exactly what I was looking for. I went through periods of unemployment for periods of a year or more when I was at a point where the writing was coming fast and furious – boom! I’d lose my job for one reason or the other. (Always economic downturn stuff, never performance issues.) In fact, I’m ready to begin writing my new book and two weeks ago, lost my job again. What does that say for the Lord’s faithfulness?

About You
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
When I was  young I always wanted to write. Even from a very young age, I knew that was what I was good at. The problem was overcoming ridicule and lack of support from my family. Then when I got older, I got married and had a family at 24 and so put “all that” on the shelf and did what was necessary to raise my children, but I knew I wanted to be an author at least from the time I was 12 or so years old.

What are three things someone may not know about you?
1.  I am a expert crocheter. I make afghans for family members and friends mostly for wedding gifts, etc.
2.  I was always an avid reader. I did try to athletics in high school and played softball my freshman year in high school, but that was a pathetic exercise. Books were always my refuge.
3.  I had to work hard to overcome almost debilitating shyness as a teenager and young adult. When I was in my 20s a friend of mine told me that all I had to do, for a start, was to look someone in the eye and say hello. Once I learned to do that, I came out of my shell. I’m still quiet and reticent at first, but I warm up quickly now.

What books have influenced you most?
I have always been a historical fiction reader. John Jakes, Anya Seton, Margaret Mitchell (of course) and now Bernard Cornwell are some of my favorites. I like those writers because I learned something of history, and had a really good story to read at the same time.

What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why?
 Anya Seton, who passed away in 1990, wrote a book called Katherine. It was about Katherine Swynford who became the third wife of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. When I was about 14, a friend of mine gave me the book saying she thought I might like it. The story was so beautifully crafted and full of rich detail about life in medieval England. Until that time I had never heard of John of Gaunt or the Plantagenet’s or Katherine Swynford, the commoner who became a duchess. I was hooked. I have no idea how many times I read that book, but I literally read the covers off it, bought a new copy and did it again. Then, I went out and got every book Anya Seton wrote that were still in publication.

What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?
As for any advice I’d give a teen who wants to write? I’d say, write. Don’t let the voices in your head tell you you’re not good enough. I listened to those voices for too long and they got me nowhere. If the good Lord designed you for crafting words then you must be obedient to His will and use the talent He gave you.

You can connect with Angela on her Goodreads page or her Face Book page


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